Saanen 4th Public Talk 18th July 1976
May we go on with what we were talking about the last time that we met here? We were saying: why do human beings, right throughout the world, live this most extraordinary, conflicting, sorrowful life? We asked that question and we went into it fairly thoroughly.
I think we ought to ask also whether it is at all possible for the content of consciousness to free itself from its own limitation? We are using words - the meaning of the words - that are probably thousands and thousands of years old. Though English didn't exist then, but the content, the meaning of the words existed. So we are using a language, which is English, using very simple words, words that have meaning in themselves, not what you attribute to them, a significance of words that convey their meaning, if one is willing seriously to listen. Because at a Gathering like this there must be some who are quite serious, they must at least comprehend the deep meaning of all that we are talking about.
You see religions throughout the world have lost their meaning completely. They are a lot of mumbo jumbo without much meaning, and rituals, dogmas that have lost their - if they ever had it - their significance. Now people who are so-called religious go to these rituals, get stimulated, feel rather good and come away from it and then live their ordinary daily life. We are talking of religion that is totally integrated with life, with everyday activity, not something that you put away on Sunday morning and live in a peculiar, illusory, fantastic mundane world. So we ought to consider very deeply what is the meaning of religion, and if it has any meaning at all, and if there is in life something sacred. After all that is what all religions are supposedly concerned with: to find out if there is something totally sacred, uncorrupted by thought, by our sentiment, by our human vanities and all the rest of it. And to come upon that, or to enquire very deeply into that, which a very serious person must enquire, because without the basis of a religious life no political action, however cunning, however worthwhile, has any meaning, because they ultimately lead to war, to confusion, to man's agony. So it becomes very important if one is very, very serious, and I hope some of you are, to find out through very careful investigation, not through romanticism, not through imagination, not through some theory, but actually come upon this, and therefore it behoves us that we do seriously enquire whether there is something original, uncontaminated, not touched by culture, civilization. And to enquire into that one must go into this question of what is consciousness.
Are we aware of our total content of ourselves, of our consciousness? Our consciousness is what we are, what we think, what we feel, what we demand, our failures, miseries, confusion and all the rest of it is part of that consciousness. I hope this is clear. Because please bear in mind again, if I may repeat it, that we are using words in order to communicate. Communication implies thinking together. Thinking together to find out the limitations of thinking, thinking together to find out the illusions that we have cultivated, thinking together so that we share, not verbally, not theoretically, ideationally, but actually share. When you share something with another, the other is responsible, totally responsible with regard to what he shares, not with regard to what he thinks, or believes, that he already knows. But sharing implies a commitment, a sense of gathering together our energies to participate in that which is going on. That demands on your part, if I may point out, a certain quality of attention, a certain quality of urgency, and intensity, because otherwise you can't share. If you are not meeting the speaker at the same level, with the same intensity, then there is no possible communication. That is an obvious fact. If I want to tell you something you must listen, or if you want to tell me something I must pay complete attention, otherwise there is no communication.
But there is a further form of communication, which is communion, which is to go beyond the word. To see the meaning instantly, the truth of it, or the falseness of it, or see the falseness as false, and truth as truth. That demands that you must give attention, care, affection, give your whole sensory attention. Then only can we share, something together, then it becomes great fun, then it becomes worthwhile, because we are concerned with our life, with our daily living, and not with some abstraction, not with some ideals and so on. We are actually dealing with daily activity, because unless you lay a right action in life - have right action in life, meditation, the search to truth, if there is something utterly sacred, cannot possibly come about. That is what we are doing.
We are asking if there is something that is beyond the measure of man, beyond the structure of thought, beyond time. And to find that out, as we said, it is very important to observe what is taking place in us: how we think, what we feel, our anxieties, our depressions, our jealousies, hatreds, sorrows, all that. Because as we pointed out previously each human being, wherever he lives, whatever his circumstances, whatever his environment, pleasant or unpleasant, he is the total summation of all humanity, because he is in sorrow like the other, he is as confused, as miserable, anxious, frightened. So you are the world, and the world is you. That must be an absolute truth to each one, not just an idea to be investigated. Because you can see this as a fact when you travel around and see human beings under various circumstances, lack of food, lack of proper environment and all the rest of it, those human beings are still suffering, tearful, anxious, uncertain - oh, you don't know what miseries they go through, just like every other human being right through the world. So this is a common fact, basically.
And we are concerned with the transformation of that factor, transformation of the whole psyche, the whole psychological structure of a human being - that is what we are concerned with. Not with the environment, with the social structure. When there is complete transformation within the human being then the social structure, the religions, everything is transformed. So this is of the highest importance, not merely the social goodness. So we are asking whether it is possible to transform the total structure and the nature of our consciousness?
So what is this consciousness? When are you conscious of yourself? That is the beginning of consciousness - you understand? We are not conscious of ourselves if there is no problem - right? If there is no conflict, if there is no anxiety, uncertainty, when there is no battle between you and me. Then we are not conscious of ourselves at all, which is a very, very simple fact. We are only conscious of ourselves when there is a problem, whether it is a sexual problem, an ideological problem, or a problem in relationship, a problem with another, with the community, and so on and so on. So there is only a consciousness that comes into being, as we know it, when there is an issue, when you are in conflict of some kind, both biological as well as psychological. Otherwise you are not. This is very important to understand. Though it sounds very simple, it is a very complex thing. A human being is only conscious when he has some kind of issue, problem, a certain quality of fear and so on. When there are none of those things he is not conscious of himself. So consciousness is self-centred. I wonder if you get all this? (May I take a breather?)
So consciousness, with which we are concerned, which is to transform what it is into something totally different, which is when there is no problem. You understand? Both biological as well as psychological. And is that possible? That is our enquiry for this morning.
This is a great thing to discover for oneself, that there is a totally different kind of consciousness - perhaps we won't even use that word consciousness - a different dimension which exists naturally, it comes into being when we, with our consciousness become self aware. Now we are asking whether that self awareness, with all its self-centred activity, can be resolved totally completely? So we are going to investigate together, examine the nature and the structure of our consciousness. You understand? (Why am I struggling so much for you?)
So first: what is our consciousness? What is the meaning of that word consciousness, according to the dictionary, not what you think, what you would like to give to it, but the common usage of that word to be found in a good dictionary? It says "to be conscious of, to be aware of, to understand, to grasp, to see the significance, to have an intelligent perception" and so on and so on. That is, to be aware of what is happening. Not after it is over, or what will happen; to be conscious implies an active present observation. You understand? All right sirs? Good. That is, to be conscious of what actually is going on. That is the meaning of that word: I am conscious that you are sitting there. Not "I have been conscious" or "I will be conscious". You understand what this implies? When you are actually conscious what is going on there is no time. There is time only when I have been conscious, or I will be conscious. That is: where there is an action taking place there is no time - right? Only when that action is controlled by the past, or shaped according to the future, then time comes into being - right? You see this? So to be conscious implies what is actually going on. Therefore there is a freedom from the past and the future. By golly, I am getting it. Right? This is fun! We are investigating.
So: you as a human being, representing the total human entity, are you actually aware now of that consciousness? Or do you say, "I will think about it"? "I will investigate into it", "I will examine it" - you follow? All that implies you are not actually being conscious. So awareness means to be actually conscious, to be aware actually of what is going on. Not how to be aware, or the practice of awareness, or that you will achieve awareness. I wonder if you see this? So that is clear: that we are observing actually our consciousness, what exactly it is. That is a very difficult thing to do because we are used to the idea that I will be conscious, or I will become aware, I will examine to find out the content. We are saying quite the opposite. Because when you say, "I will examine" there is a time interval between the actual examination and the determination to examine. There is a time lag - you follow all this? In that time lag all kinds of other activities go on which interfere with your examination. Have you got it sirs? Got it? Good, at least somebody gets it.
So we are actually examining, looking at our consciousness, the content of it - because the content makes up consciousness. You understand? Without the content there is a totally different thing. The content is our consciousness. Right? That must be very clear. The content makes up our consciousness. When you are angry, that's your consciousness. When you are jealous, petty, narrow, all the rest of it, that makes the total content. So we are looking at the consciousness of a human being, which is yourself, actually as it is. Right? Now I said it becomes difficult because to observe for most people implies observation through the knowledge which you have acquired - right? Is that clear? I observe you because I know you. That is, I have met you yesterday, and I have talked to you so there is a memory, and that memory observes you. Right? That is, there is the observer, who is the past, observing the actual, which is the present. Right? Do you see this? Am I making it terribly difficult? No? Good.
I want to see myself. I want to be aware of my consciousness, what it is doing, what its activities are, what it demands, pursues, and all the rest of it. Now how do I observe that consciousness? How do you observe it? You observe it from what you have learnt about it - right? Either from some philosopher, analyst, or you have examined yourself and have stored it up as a memory and with that memory you are examining, you are looking. So the observer who is observing the consciousness is the past - right? So with the past he is observing the present, the fact. So he twists or adulterates the present. That is obvious. If you have insulted me and you have hurt me and I remember that hurt, then I look at you with that hurt. The observer is the hurt. So when we observe consciousness, as we are doing now, the actual consciousness, your observation is from the background of a conclusionright? So there is a division between the observer and the actual fact which is. Hence there is a conflict between the observer and the thing which is. Got it? Are we together somewhat in this?
So when you have a gap between the observer and the observed, then there is a time interval and during that time interval other factors enter, conflict arises and so on. Therefore it is imperative to remove this gap, otherwise you cannot observe actually the present - you get it? You see the logic of it at least.
So is that possible? That is, the observer who is the past, the past being knowledge, his experience, his hurts, his demands, his ideologies, his memories, and the actual fact, which is the present consciousness in which may be included the past and the future. So actually is it possible to observe without the interval, the gap? You understand my question? That is, it is necessary that one looks at the present, this present consciousness, with its activity, without the past. That means the observer is the observed. I wonder if you see that? Because the observer when he is different from the observed, then there is an interval of conflict.
Now I will make it much simpler. Is anger different from you who are angry? Do you understand my question? The man who is envious - is envy different from the man who says "I am envious"? Or the observer and the observed are the same - right? While you think about it I will take a rest, while you look at it for yourself. When you hate somebody, when you are angry, envious, is that feeling different from you? Or you are that feeling? If there is not that feeling, you are not. Just see the simplicity of it. Do you understand?
So to observe the present, which is the content of consciousness, one must come to this realization that the observer is the observed. The observed is not different from the observer. This is really most important to find out. Because when you understand this deeply then meditation, into which we will go, becomes something entirely different. I can't tell you the importance of understanding this: that the feeling is not separate from you, you are that feeling. The observer though he may think he is different from the observed, he is still the observed. That is the observer - I will go slowly - the observer is the past - right? The observer, which is the result of thought, thought being experience, knowledge, stored up as memory in the brain, all that storehouse of memory is the past. And with that past there is observation. Thought says, "I am different from the observed". So thought breeds this division because the past is security, the past is certainty, the past is vital to thought, so it must keep itself separate from the observed. But when you examine it you will see that the observer is the observed. I can't go much more into it unless you drink it in, absorb it, put your teeth into it.
So: now you are observing without the observer your consciousness. That is you don't look at it with like and dislike, saying "This is right", "This is wrong", "This should be", "This is good", "This is bad" - which is all the past, your past being your conditioning, the background. But when you realize that you cannot look at what actually is with the eyes of the past then the very demand to look removes the past; not the effort made to remove the past, but the very demand to see the present frees the observer from the past, therefore there is only the observed. Right? See this, please. Right, can we go on from there?
So now we are observing without any judgement - right? Judgement is the past. So you are looking at this whole consciousness of the human being without judgement, without comparison, without any form of distortion; any form of distortion takes place when you judge, when you compare, when you say, "This is right", "This is wrong", "This should be", "This should not be". So the mind is free now of all distortion. And the distortion takes place when the movement of time, as past, comes into being. You understand the point?
So now we are observing the content of consciousness without any attitude, without any prejudice, just to observe. Now what is the content of consciousness? There are three obvious principles in that field, which is sorrow, pleasure, fear, with all the ramifications, with all the complications of each one. We are looking at it, not saying what to do about it. If you say, "What am I to do?" then you are looking with the eyes of the past. So you are observing without any sense of effort, therefore when there is no effort there is tremendous attention. You understand? Come on sirs.
We said the content of consciousness is consciousness. And the content of these three principal activities of human beings - fear, pleasure, sorrow. We went into the question of fear the other day - I won't go into it now because there is lots more further to be said. We said the word is not the thing. The word fear is not the feeling. Does the word awaken the feeling of fear? Or does the feeling exist without the word? If the feeling exists without the word then it is sensation, like any other sensation. And when you observe that particular sensation with all your senses that which you call fear no longer exists. This is very important to understand, which we went into the other day.
(Why am I working for you so hard? Eh? C'est mon metier! No it is not, so let's get on with it.)
So we look now at the content to observe pleasure. Not that it should not exist, or that it should exist. What would you do without pleasure, what would you not do without pleasure. Just to observe. That very observation brings its own peculiar discipline. You understand? The word 'discipline' means to learn, not what we have made it into, which is to conform, suppress, identify and drill oneself into a particular pattern. That is generally what is understood by the word 'discipline'. The root meaning of that word discipline means to learn, discipline - it comes from that, disciple, learn from the master - here there is no master, we are learning. So to observe without the observer brings its own order. You understand? Order means discipline. So we are observing this thing called pleasure. So we are asking: why man, throughout the world, at what ever level of society, class he may be, this is one thing he is pursuing, in the name of god, in the name of religion, in the name of politics, pleasure; with which goes power, position, prestige and all the rest of it - why? You understand? Why are you, as a human being, representing the world, which you are, why are you pursuing pleasure? Observe it, not whether it is right or wrong. Why is there this demand? You understand? When you go to church, when you go to a temple, it is another form of pleasure; sexual pleasure; the pleasure of possession, the pleasure of denial; the pleasure of austerity; the pleasure of abundance; the pleasure of possession, the pleasure of detachment; the pleasure of achievement; the pleasure of renunciation; the pleasure of completely controlling your body. This immense structure of pleasure is one of the factors of our consciousness, perhaps it may be one of the major factors. So why? You understand? You can't answer, not a verbal answer. Observing this fact of pleasure, why we are asking, man has pursued it upon millions of years, which is you?
Knowledge is a great factor of pleasure, the pleasure of having read a great many books, all the information, able to talk about it, inform people - you follow? - the whole pleasure of knowledge. Why? Observe it please in yourself. Why you, as a human being, pursue this pleasure? And what is pleasure? There are different kinds of pleasure: the pleasure of sensation, biological, organic sensation; there are the psychological pleasures? And the pleasure of thinking very clearly. And what is this pleasure? Is joy, that thing which comes uninvited, is that joy pleasure? You are wandering by yourself, if you ever do, in a wood, or you walk along and suddenly without any invitation, without seeking it there is that peculiar sense of ecstasy, joy. That is wholly different from pleasure. But thought recognizes that joy as an extraordinary state, then remembers that state - please follow this - remembers that state and wants more of it. So pleasure is the movement of thought. I wonder if you see it?
I have had a pleasure of a good meal and I remember it, and I say to myself, "I must have it tomorrow". The pleasure of domination, pleasure of having power over others. All that is the movement of thought over an incident which has happened and stored up as memory. And the movement of that is pleasure. So joy is entirely different from pleasure. The moment you remember that joy then it becomes pleasure.
And enjoyment: when you see a mountain, listen to the running waters, or see a green field and the lonely tree in a field, there is delight, there is a sense of fulness, appreciation of this vastness of this marvellous earth. Again that feeling of enjoyment is taken over by thought and pursued. Therefore that becomes pleasure. Is this clear?
So pleasure is the movement of thought in time, and we are conditioned to that. We seek enlightenment, a religious life, basically because it will give ultimate pleasure. Right? So pleasure is one of our basic principles in life, which is the pursuit of it. Not seeing the immense importance of seeing something extraordinary and not storing it. You understand? I wonder. This is, please if I may point out to you again, this is very important because the brain is recording all the time, recording every incident, every happening, every experience, every - you follow? - it is like a computer, storing, storing, storing. Because in that storage there is great security. If there is no storing up you are lost. So the brain needs security to function safely, intelligently, actively, efficiently. And so the brain stores up, as it stores up to act skilfully in the mechanical world, so it stores up memory, knowledge, as a means of its own security, which is obvious.
Now as long as that is operating there is nothing new - right? As long as the brain is operating, functioning, using its knowledge in skills, it is limited, it becomes mechanical. In that there is no basic freedom. So we are saying: is it possible to see something lovely, look at it, give your complete attention to it and not record it? The moment you record it, it becomes the pursuit of pleasure. You understand? So is that possible? You have a most pleasurable happening, extraordinary pleasurable; to observe it and to be so completely attentive that the brain doesn't record. Then that incident is over and not carried over. So it is important to find out because it is part of meditation. This is real meditation, because to find out if there is in the area of the brain, or in the mind, in the universe, in the global existence, a state, a dimension in which thought has never entered, therefore culture, civilization has never touched it. To find that out, and that is real meditation, that is the real religious life, one must find out why this recording process goes on all the time. Do you understand? If the process goes on all the time then the brain becomes mechanical. Our brains are mechanical - part of them. Is there another part of the brain which is not mechanical? To find that out, registration must come to an end - you follow? See the sequence of it for yourself. Not because I am capable of a good argument or anything of that kind, but see it for yourself how important it is to find out if there is an area where thought, with its mechanistic activity has never entered. And you can only find that out if the registration process comes to an end. That is, can the brain observe, be fully completely attentive, with all the senses, to that particular happening, to that particular incident, be fully aware? And when it is so completely aware there is no recording. You can do it for yourself. You can see it. If you can look at something, it doesn't matter what it is, with all your senses, not intellectually, not visually, not merely hearing but with every nerve, with every sense fully awakened, to observe that incident, however pleasurable, however painful, then you will see there is no record. Don't agree with me. Don't say, "Yes, that is marvellous" - do it. That means you have to find out what it means to be aware. What is implied in that word. Is it something that can be practised? "I shall become gradually aware, I am not now but I will be the day after tomorrow." Or go to classes to learn how to be aware. Oh that is all so silly, cut it out.
So: you are only aware now or never. You understand? Either you are - you can't cultivate it, then what you cultivate is the desire to achieve something. And when there is the desire to achieve something then you have lost totally the beauty, the perfume of awareness. Do you understand?
So what is it to be aware? When you sit there, are you aware of your surroundings? The man or woman next to you, just to be aware without any judgement, evaluation, choice. Just watch it. Aware of the tent, aware of the colours round you, the faces, and is it possible to observe without any choice? To look. Because the moment you choose, the past with all its demands, with its illusions, with its distortions, comes. So to be aware implies not only to be aware of all your environment, circumstances, the colours of nature, you know, aware of everything around you, just to observe for a second or two, then move from that awareness, in which there is no choice, to see with all your senses. Can you look at something completely? And it can only be done now, not as a result.
Then from there you can go into the question of attention. Where there is attention there is no centre. Have you noticed it? When you are completely attentive, say for instance, you are listening to me, fortunately or unfortunately, you are listening to me, to the speaker. And the speaker says to you, what it means to be attentive. He says, where there is complete attention, which is the understanding of awareness in which there is no choice, the observation of something with all your senses, then moving to attention. And when there is that tremendous attention, really effortless attention, then you see there is no centre as the 'me' who is the observer. Now you listen to that. Are you giving your total attention to it? Or do you say, "There is that train going by, that blasted train I wish it wouldn't"? And so on and so on.
So is it possible for a human being to give that total attention, the movement of awareness, senses, and attention - one movement. It is not I learn first awareness, then senses, it is one unitary movement. With that attention, complete attention, observe an incident, a happening. Because there is no centre there is no registration. You understand? You have got it?
Have we met this somewhat? The centre is the 'me', the ego, the I. That is put together by thought; put together by thought as name, form and all the attributes it has collected around itself. That is the centre, the 'me'. Now when that centre is operating it is operating in the field of registration, it is always registering - I am hurt, I am not hurt, how good I am, how bad - you follow? - what a marvellous morning that was, etc. etc. etc. So where there is a centre there must be registration. Where there is complete attention, and therefore no centre, there is no registration. This is a fact.
So can you observe the content of consciousness - the content - observe that with all your attention, which is your fear, and the immense pursuit of pleasure? That is, organized religions, religions of belief, religions of propaganda, whether it be two thousand years or ten thousand years, have always said, "Destroy pleasure. Deny pleasure, because you can't serve god if you have pleasure". So they have destroyed it and become distorted. What we are saying is something entirely different: which is to observe that pleasure, and the pursuit of pleasure with all the capacity of attention. Then in that state there is no registration. Then you will find out that there is a quality of mind where no registration takes place at all. Incidents on the peripheral existence of life goes on, noise, buying a ticket to go to some place, meeting, talking here, it is all peripheral action as far as the speaker is concerned. But there is a place where there is absolutely no registration. Now that is part of meditation, which we will discuss another time. And also we will have to discuss in the next three meetings, gatherings - sorrow, love, death and meditation. They are all implied when we began at the beginning of the talks, the implications in those talks were meditation. It is not at the end you will learn how to meditate. It is a total thing. Right.
Saanen 4th Public Talk 18th July 1976
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